We came to MD Anderson the following year because we hadn’t seen any improvement in his condition, even after several months of lymphoma treatment with a local provider.
Thanks to MD Anderson, my husband was in remission by early 2012 — and I was on a mission to become an occupational therapist here. That’s why I tell people today that MD Anderson didn’t just save my husband’s life. It also helped me to find my life’s work.
My husband’s lymphoma symptoms
Donald first started showing symptoms of lymphoma in May 2010. It began with a pain on the left side of his abdomen. Shortly after that, he began having night sweats and developed a low-grade fever.
I was really worried about him. Don had always been super healthy and physically active. And while he did have a demanding, high-stress job, he was starting to feel much more fatigued than usual.
My husband’s lymphoma treatment
At MD Anderson, we met with lymphoma specialist Dr. Fredrick Hagemeister. He said Donald’s cancer was aggressive, but he was confident that we could treat it. He recommended several rounds of chemotherapy.
Donald began intensive chemotherapy to break up the tumor attached to his intestine. Then, Dr. Hagemeister suggested a stem cell transplant to keep the cancer in remission.
The stem cell transplant ended up being the last lymphoma treatment Donald needed, although a few months later, surgical oncologist Dr. Jean-Nicolas Vauthey had to remove portions of his small and large intestines because the cancer had damaged them.
My husband was formally declared in remission as of early 2012. He has shown no evidence of lymphoma since then.
Why it means so much to work for MD Anderson now
I was so grateful to MD Anderson for the care and consideration Donald and I received that I resolved to become an occupational therapist here. I achieved both of those goals in 2019, when I earned my certification as an occupational therapist and joined MD Anderson as an employee.
Now, I’m a member of the same workforce that once saved my husband’s life. This is incredibly meaningful to me. MD Anderson gave us our lives back, and I want to share that same gift with others.
As a caregiver and an employee at MD Anderson, I have always found the culture here to be warm, open and welcoming.
What I tell people about MD Anderson today
Today, Donald and I live on Galveston Island. So, it takes me about an hour and half to get to and from my job in the Texas Medical Center. But I feel like being a part of MD Anderson is worth sitting in traffic for.
Material things don’t matter to me. You can’t take them with you when you die. And the most important things in life — like love, kindness, health and acceptance — are things you can’t buy.
MD Anderson gave us all of those things. So, it’s not just a workplace for me now. It’s my passion.